SHMUEL-MORTKHE ZAMD (March 15, 1890-November 1971)
He was born in a village near Terlitsa, Kiev district, Ukraine, to an impoverished timber merchant. He was orphaned in his youth on his mother’s side and raised by his grandfather in Terlitsa. Afterward when his father, Avrom-Leyb Pesok, settled in Nikolaev and opened a religious elementary school there, Shmuel-Mortkhe moved there. Until age thirteen he studied at his father’s religious elementary school and in a Russian public school, later becoming a sign painter. In 1906 he moved to Canada, and from there in 1909 to the United States where he settled in Chicago. For a time he worked as a sign painter, and later he worked as a secretary in a Jewish school. He debuted in print (under the name Shmuel Pesok) in Der groyser kundes (The great prankster) in New York, with a memoirist description of Jewish Montreal entitled “Montreoler notitsn” (Notes on Montreal). From the time on, he published humorous sketches, skits, articles, and reviews of Yiddish performances and concerts, as well as children’s stories, puzzles, children’s poems, and features in: Der groyser kundes, Kibitser (Joker), Forverts (Forward) in New York and Detroit, and other serials. In 1912 he became an internal contributor (and for a time editorial secretary) to the daily Yidisher kuryer (Jewish courier) in Chicago—later known as Kuryer (Courier), a weekly—in which he also ran a column “Harts tsu harts” (Heart to heart). From June 1919 (until the final issue of this publication in 1952), he was he was an internal contributor and assistant editor of Shikager forverts (Chicago forward), in which aside from the news, articles, and theater reviews, he also published the humorous series “Bilder un stsenkes” (Images and scenes). He also contributed to: Der idisher rekord (The Jewish record) in St. Louis; the journal Shikago (Chicago); Nikolayever yorbikher (Nikolaev annuals) (1940, 1950); Idisher shriftzetser (Jewish typographer) (New York, 1926, 1936); and other trade journals and publications. He was editor of Kinder-baylage tsum yidishn rekord (Children’s supplement to Idisher rekord) (Chicago, 1913-1915). From 1955 he has been living in Chicago.
Source: Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959), p. 2416.
Khayim Leyb Fuks